|Manipulative and body-based methods - edit|
||This article needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (February 2014)|
Rolfing is an alternative medical treatment marketed by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (RISI). The Institute states that Rolfing is a "holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity". Rolfing is essentially identical to Structural Integration, whereby a forceful technique is used in an attempt to reposition tissues under the skin.
There is no evidence Rolfing is effective for the treatment of any health condition.
Rolfing is of no benefit in treating disease.
Ida Pauline Rolf began working on people in New York in the 1930s with the premise that the human structure could be organized in relation to gravity and that this might benefit the chronically disabled unable to find help elsewhere. By the 1950s Rolf was teaching Postural Release. The method Rolf developed was originally called Postural Release and later Structural Integration but became known as Rolfing. In 1971 she founded the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.
Theory and practice
Rolfing is typically performed in a progression of 10 sessions, sometimes called "the recipe," which is claimed to provide a systematic approach to address goals for the theorized alignment and movement of various body areas. The purported purpose is to educate the body to have better alignment within gravity.  Rolfers manipulate the body to move the fascia until they believe it is operating in conjunction with the muscles in a more optimal relationship. In addition to physical manipulation of tissue, Rolfing uses a combination of active and passive movement retraining.
Skeletal muscles often work in opposing pairs called the "agonist" and the "antagonist", the one contracting while the other relaxes. Rolf theorized that "bound up" fasciae (connective tissues) often restrict opposing muscles from functioning in concert. She aimed to separate the fibers of bound up fasciae manually to loosen them and allow effective movement. She claimed to have found an association between pent-up emotions and tension in muscles. This claim of a muscular/emotional connection is not supported by scientific studies.
Rolfing is a forceful technique in which a practitioner will use their whole body to apply pressure. Some clients find Rolfing painful but it has become a more gentle practice than in its early days. On The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007 Mehmet Oz likened Rolfing to having someone do yoga for you.
Rolfers and some experts in alternative medicine describe Rolfing as "somatic education" and use terms such as "bodywork" to describe the hands-on portion of the process.   Some factions of the massage industry claim that Rolfing is a type of massage. The massage tradition has drawn significantly from Rolfing, with some of Ida Rolf's students leaving to become prominent teachers of massage. 
Other disciplines of Structural Integration
In addition to the Rolf Institute, where Certified Rolfers are trained, a number of other schools of Structural Integration certify "Practitioners of the Rolf Method of Structural Integration." Standards are maintained by a professional membership organization, the International Association of Structural Integration. These schools include The Guild for Structural Integration, Hellerwork Structural Integration, Aston Patterning, SOMA, KMI, and others.
- Feldenkrais Method
- Alexander Technique
- Alternative therapies
- Posture (psychology)
- Mind–body interventions
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